The specific board I use for this game is created by Hatch Patch Creations. It is intended for a church lesson on honesty for kids, and I did originally use it for exactly that purpose. But I am all about repurposing, so here it is again in a different form.
What You Need:
A printable spider board game
Basically, it just needs a spider web and some numbers going around it. See the picture below.
A few plastic spiders
Mine were rings in a previous life
Two small items to use as game markers
Flashcards for whatever you want to drill
Place your game markers in the middle of the web. The goal is to escape it.
How to Play:
Have the student place the plastic spiders on any numbers they choose.
The student rolls the die. In order to advance, they need to correctly answer a flashcard. If they get it wrong, they stay where they are.
The teacher takes a turn. Repeat.
Whenever anyone lands on a number with a plastic spider, that is a wild space which could mean different things, such as:
Double or nothing: move forward twice
Teacher loses a turn
Go back to start
Write your own flashcard
I was drilling rhythms, so my spiders meant you had to write your own rhythm.
Whoever escapes the web first wins.
To make it easier or harder, just vary your flashcards.
To make it shorter, declare whoever is ahead the winner.
This hardly counts as a game in and of itself, but I made it up this week to use in conjunction with Skeleton, Human or Monster? Most of my students were drilling note names, but several are beyond needing that so we drilled this instead. You could use it with anything in my How to Drill Anything series.
What You Need:
Notecards that have the keys you want to practice
I always start with C major, G major, D major, and F major. If they’re doing well on those, then expand to A major, E major, B-flat major, and E-flat major.
This balancing game is one of the kids’ favorites. I like it too, since it’s infinitely customizable to each student. It does require owning a specific game, but you can do a similar thing with blocks or plastic cups, if that’s easier to get.
The game comes with a die that has six colors on it. Assign a different type of flashcard or challenge for each color. For example, note names, rhythms, chords, key signatures, improv duets, play by ear challenges, sight reading, review songs, hard spots in their current song, etc. You can even leave one color to be a freebie.
How to Play:
Ignore the rule book entirely.
The student rolls the die and completes the challenge for that color. Then she can place a metal stick of that color on the stand.
If anything falls off the stand, just add it back into the pile at the bottom.
The problem with most music board games is that they are so specific to one concept that at any given time, they aren’t appropriate for most of my students. Here’s a generic one that is practically free, takes about 10 minutes to make, and can be tailored on the fly for any student.
To Create the Board:
Paint chips with three obviously different colors. I did yellow, green, and blue.
Card stock in a contrasting color
Cut out the paint chips so you have stacks of squares or rectangles in each of your three colors. Mine range from pastels to brights, but as long as each stack is identifiably one of your three colors, it’s fine. Glue your squares onto the cardstock in alternating colors. The layout should make a wavy line (see the picture below). With the Sharpie, label the first one as Start and the last one as Finish. To add interest, draw a few arrows from certain squares to shortcut either forward or backward. In a couple of squares, write things like “Teacher loses a turn,” or “Go Again” or “Bonus Question (move forward two more spaces if you get it right).” When you’re done, I suggest laminating the cardstock to make it more durable, but you could also just slip it in a sheet protector.
What You Need to Play:
Your game board
Two game pieces (you can use coins, erasers, paper clips, whatever)
Three sets of flashcards, separated by subject
For example, treble clef notes, bass clef notes, intervals, key signatures, or rhythms.
Decide which set of flashcards corresponds with which color on your board.
Place two game pieces on Start.
How to Play:
The student rolls the dice and moves forward that many squares. She then draws a flashcard from the stack that corresponds with the color she has landed on and answers the question. (If she gets it wrong, I just give her enough hints so that she eventually gets it right.)
I take a turn. The only difference is that if I get it wrong and the student catches me, I have to move my game piece back to where I was before.
This encourages the student to pay attention during my turn and also ensures that they always win. If my dice throws happen to be luckier than the students, I just start getting a lot of questions wrong.
First person to get to the Finish line wins.
The difficulty of this game is entirely controlled by which flashcards you choose. To make it harder, just use progressively harder concepts, even if you don’t have exact flashcards for it. For example:
Draw a note flashcard and play the major (or minor or diminished or augmented) chord with that note as the root.
Draw a note flashcard and name the note that is a perfect fifth above it (or any other interval).
Draw a key signature flashcard and improv a melody in that key.
This is my spin on a traditional educational game listed on many places on the Internet. I use it for rhythm, but the principal can be used for anything. My version is a little different. It’s for two players only (teacher vs. student). The kids love beating me, and they have yet to point out that they always win. It takes a bit of prep work to create the game in the first place, but absolutely no setup during or right before each lesson.
What You Need:
Popsicle or craft sticks with rhythms (or whatever you’re drilling) written on one end
You can buy different colors or sizes to make different levels of rhythms.
All the rhythms are two measures long. I have mixed time signatures.
A few sticks with “Zap It!” written on one end
(Optional) A few sticks with “Instrument” written on one end, plus a selection of percussion instruments
An opaque container to hold your sticks
How to Play:
The student draws a stick. She identifies the time signature and then counts and claps that rhythm. If she gets it right, she keeps the stick.
In reality, I have the kids do it again until they get it right, so they always keep the stick.
As teacher, I draw a stick. I identify the time signature and then count and clap the rhythm. If I get it right, I keep the stick. If the student catches me getting it wrong, the student gets a chance to do it right. If the student gets it right, she can keep the stick instead of me.
I do this strategically, not only to make sure they are paying attention during my turn, but also to ensure they always win the game.
Alternate turns until someone draws a Zap It! stick. At that point, everyone counts their sticks. Whoever has the most sticks is the winner.
If someone draws an Instrument stick, they draw another stick to get a rhythm and can choose a percussion instrument to use instead of clapping. They keep both sticks at the end of the turn.